Friday, April 11, 2008

Murchison Falls, Take 2

The first time I went to Murchison Falls, last July, I was sick and trying to be a good sport about it—if you ask J, I’m sure he’d say I failed miserably; but hopefully if you asked N or S they would say I didn’t do too bad a job. This time, traveling with V and S, (J stayed home to work—someday I hope you will be reading a blog of J’s year doing cool things while I slave away in an office somewhere) I felt totally healthy and we traveled in style.

Doing some last minute planning, I called up my friends at GeoLodges (same owners as Rainforest Lodge) and they put together a nice package for us. Last Wednesday a driver, Karim, picked us up at home at 7:00 AM. In the same size van that eight of us had packed into for the Red Chilli trip, the three of us now rode on the beautifully paved road to Hoima—the miserable road we had taken last June is now, apparently, completely impassable. After Hoima, though, the road turns to packed dirt for the remaining two to three hours and admittedly it gets fairly tedious.

We stopped in Masindi for lunch, Masindi of some Hemingway fame. He is said to have stayed at the Masindi Hotel. This is the story the Bradt guide tells: In January 1954 Hemingway and his fourth wife Mary Walsh crashed their Cessna in Murchison Falls. In the process Mary cracked some ribs and Hemingway dislocated his shoulder. They spent the night on the shores of the Nile and were rescued the following morning by a boat going to Butiaba, a lakeside village 8km from the Masindi road. From their the two charted a flight to Entebbe. “On take-off, however, the plane lifted, bumped back down, crashed, and burst into flames. Mary and the pilot escaped through a window. Hemingway, too bulky to fit through the window and unable to use his dislocated arm, battered open the buckled door with his head, to emerge with bleeding skull and a rash of blistering burns.” Then they spent a few days recovering in the Masindi Hotel. As it turned out, Hemingway also had a collapsed intestine, a ruptured liver and kidney, two crushed vertebrae, temporary loss of vision in one eye, impaired hearing, and a fractured skull. These injuries caused him to miss the ceremony for the Nobel Prize (he won the Prize for Literature that year).

Anyway, next stop Murchison Falls, followed by the Nile Safari Lodge.

In my next post: crocodiles the size of small cars, dead hippos, baby monkeys. Stay tuned.

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